Old, vintage, historical book archives at the Morwell Historical Society

Morwell on the March – Miscellaneous

A Journey in Time – A Resource for Local History

Morwell on the March – Miscellaneous

Morwell Heights Post Office

An unofficial Post Office was established by the S.E.C.V. “Ridge” workers hostel on 1st. May 1951. The name Morwell Heights was chosen in preference to Morwell Ridge as it was considered that reference to the word “Ridge” might cause some historical confusion.

The officer-in-charge at the facility was Mr. R. Jones, a former Post Master at Boolarra.

Morwell East Post Office

Another unofficial Post Office was opened in Morwell in January 1952. The office, which was located at the corner of Churchill Road and Tobruk Street was known as “Morwell East”.  Money order facilities were introduced from 1st July 1952. Savings Bank facilities were established on 1st. October 1952.

Maryvale Mill Memorial Gates

The Memorial Gates designed to commemorate those A.P.M. employees who lost their lives during the Second World War were dedicated on Saturday February 7th. 1953. The memorial consisted of two plaques each with seven names. The gates were wrought iron and supported by granite pillars.

Major-General Clive Steele (a director of A.P.M.) unveiled the plaques.

The gates were opened by Mr. C. S. Booth, the Managing Director.

The following names appear on the memorial plaques :

Anderson, N.Griffiths, R.
Armstrong, J.Hicks, W.
Ashby, J.Lawrence, F.
Brown, E.Pollock, D.
Catterick, J.Stagg, L.
Finlayson, W.Watson, F.
Gillies, A.Williams, R.

Pedestrian Subway – Princes Highway

The pedestrian subway under the Princes Highway was opened at 2.30pm on Wednesday 11th May 1955. The official ceremony took place at the Princes Highway entrance. Cr. V. Hourigan performed the honours. Mrs. Hourigan cut a ribbon at the Church Street entrance.

Photograph taken in the 1950s, an average day with average traffic experienced in that time frame.

The subway was constructed by local contractor Mr. O E. Hails.  The cost of the project amounted to 17,000.

Morwell Medical Clinic

A significant boost to the provision of medical services in the township occurred in August 1955. The construction of a new facility, to be named “Morwell Medical Clinic” commenced at the corner of Princes Highway and Hopetoun Avenue.

The new “clinic” would house the practices of the following doctors: D. F. Mitchell, A.A. Crook, F.N. Bouvier, W.F. Ferguson, and J. F. Wiseman.

The building was 27 square in area and consisted of 5 surgeries, X-ray and developing facilities, a small theatre, waiting room, office space and quarters for the Sister.

The building contractors were a firm from Moe. – Wakker Droog.

Morwell and District Community Hospital

The Morwell and District Community Hospital, which was situated in Elgin Street, underwent a major renovation, extension and re-equipping programme in early 1956. The revamped facility was officially opened at 2.15pm on Sunday 1st. July.

Cr. J. C. Balfour, M.L.A., Member for Morwell performed the official opening.

The extensions included 2 new wings, a casualty department and improved staff accommodation.  The theatre was re-equipped with a new operating table and an updated lighting system.  The labour wards and the nursery were modernised, whilst the general wards were extensively renovated.

The Apex Club of Morwell raised over $500 towards the nursery equipment and furnishings.

The total number of beds available was increased to 19.

The whole programme cost in the vicinity of 28,000. The Hospitals and Charities Commission gave 18,000; the local hospital committee contributed 10,000.

Mr. R. Cahill, the hospital committee president carried out the opening day proceedings. He welcomed the official guests and was quoted as saying “We have waited over eight years for this”.

The dignitaries present included, Mr. H. E. Palmer, deputy chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission, the Shire President, Cr. Alan Hall and hospital committee vice-president Mr. G. R. Billingsley.

Representatives from several local organisations were also in attendance, they included: Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Apex, C.W.A., Blind Auxiliary, Red Cross, Latrobe Valley and District Ambulance Service, Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Services Association, Morwell, Boolarra and Boolarra South Ladies Auxiliaries, Guides and Brownies.

Mr. Stan Frew represented the firm of architects in charge of the project – Best Overend. To mark the occasion, Mr Frew presented Cr. Balfour with an inscribed silver salver. The Shire of Morwell and Maryvale band performed various musical pieces.

The public was invited to inspect the hospital upon the completion of the official proceedings.

Panoramic Drive-In Theatre

A new and innovative concept in entertainment came to Morwell in 1956, the drive-in theatre. The Panoramic drive-in, situated in Latrobe Road on a 12 acre site near the Holmes Road intersection screened its first films at a special function held on a wet and damp Wednesday 29th. August. Mr. Frank James, Panoramic’s Managing Director took the opportunity to thank those who were instrumental in assisting his company to establish the new facility.

He made special mention of Shire President Cr. Alan Hall, without whose help the drive-in would not have come to Morwell. Mr. J. W. F. Connan, the Shire Engineer and Mr. W. K. Mathison, the Shire Secretary, also received a special vote of thanks. Morwell Waterworks Trustees Mr. R. R. Davey and Mr. W. McRoberts were thanked for making the site available.

“The drive-in” officially opened to the public on 30th August. The opening night’s proceeds were donated to local community groups. Amongst those to benefit were: Morwell Red Cross, Morwell High School, Latrobe Legacy Group, The Benevolent Society and the Morwell and District Hospital.

The price of admission for the first night was 1/-  per vehicle, irrespective of the number of occupants carried. Children were provided with free lollies and balloons.

The “Panoramic” operated six days per week: Monday to Saturday.

Each evening, the gates would open at 6.30 with show time commencing at 7.30.

On Monday to Thursday evenings, the programme was double-billed. On Friday and Saturday nights the “Panoramic” screened two shows, the second commencing at 9.30.

General admission prices were: Monday to Friday – Adults 4/- and Children 1/-. On Saturdays, the adult admission was increased to 5/-.

The Panoramic drive-in provided extensive meals service. Patrons were able to obtain their meals at the catering section, or if preferred, they could avail themselves of the tray service direct to their vehicle.

The “drive-in” also catered for the amusement needs of children by providing a fully equipped playground. The playground was situated near the viewing area.

“The Panoramic” was able to accommodate 436 cars; plans were in place to extend the site’s carrying capacity to 500 vehicles.

Attendants washed the windscreen of each vehicle upon entry to the facility. In wet weather, the water used to wash the windscreens was chemically treated to ensure good viewing.

The projection and sound equipment cost £14,000 and was installed by R.C.A. (Radio Corporation of America). The viewing screen measured 80 feet by 30 feet. The construction and terracing work was carried out by Bendigo building contractor John D. Booker. Mr. Jas Houlihan performed site supervision duties. The total cost of the facility came to approximately £60,000.

To operate on a six day basis, the “Panoramic” needed 30 employees in various categories : Projector Operator, Cashier, Cook, Kitchen and Cafe staff, Car Attendant.

Mr. Vin Manus was the manager.

The Morwell Club

The Morwell Club’s premises in Helen Street were opened on Thursday 13th September 1956. Mr. R. R. Davey, a trustee of the club, unveiled the foundation stone. The cost of construction came to £6,000.

Town Hall Modifications

The Town Hall modifications and improvements were officially opened by the Shire President Cr. J. Pettigrew on Friday 17th May 1957. The works consisted of a new library and new council chambers. The old chambers and library were converted into office space. The library began operating on Monday 15th April.

Ronald Reserve Hall

Mid-1957 saw the establishment of the original Ronald Reserve Hall in Morwell east. This was an important community event, as it added significantly to the developing infrastructure in that part of the township.

On June 27th., the Shire of Morwell, by way of the local press, advertised the programme of events it had scheduled for the official opening that was to occur on Sunday June 30th.

The shire invited the general public to participate on the day.

The day’s activities began at 2.30pm with a recital by the Morwell Shire-Maryvale Band. Then at 3.00pm the Shire President, Cr. W. J. Pettigrew introduced Cr. J. C. Balfour M.L.A. for Morwell who performed the actual opening.

Shire councillors, Vin Hourigan and A. W. Ronald gave speeches during the ceremony.

At the conclusion of the official proceedings, at approximately 3.20pm, the band performed a second recital.

The hall had been purchased from the Royal Park at nominal cost. Renovation works and placement costs amounted to 2,885.

It was envisaged that the hall would be used for public meetings, community activities and youth work.

Titles Office

The Titles Office (headquartered in Queen Street Melbourne) opened a typing branch in Morwell on 16th March 1959. The branch office was located in Tarwin Street in the old Commonwealth Bank temporary premises near George Street.

Six local girls were employed as typists.

The senior staff came to Morwell from the Queen Street office.

Mr. Vin Lowden – Officer in Charge

Mr. Brian Bricknell – Deputy

Miss Burns – Head of Typing Pool

Other events

  • Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Services Association was established in 1950
  • The Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board was established in 1954
  • The telephone exchange was automated in 1955
  • The Australian Postal Institute Hall in Hazelwood Road was opened in 1956
  • Tennis courts and Olympic swimming pool constructed at Sir Norman Brookes Park in 1956
  • Town gas supply established on July 23rd. 1959
  • Hazelwood Power Station construction began in October 1959